AN AGEING sewerage system, clogged up by growing ‘fatbergs' of waste oil and grease, has been given a multi-million-pound upgrade.

To protect the environment and serve a growing population, Thames Water has given sewerage across Faringdon and nearby Coxwell a makeover worth £3.6m.

The sewer system, which was constructed in the 1960s, is responsible for taking away the waste water of about 8,000 homes and businesses.

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The upgrades include two new filters and a seven-day standby power generator in the event of a power cut.

New control centres for Thames Water engineers to manage the machinery have also been installed and a new tank built so the site can hold sludge – the by-product of the treatment process – before it is transported to Swindon to be turned into renewable energy.

During the work, Thames Water engineers discovered blobs of fat and grease clogging up the sewage filters, along with several children’s toys that had made their way into the network.

Engineers also revealed that the gutters were filled with ‘unflushables’. These include nappies, sanitary products, wet wipes and cotton buds, which do not break down like toilet paper, causing major blockages that can lead to raw sewage flooding on to the streets.

These can also combine with fats, oils and grease to create big congealed masses that clog the gutters and require great effort to remove.

The number of households in the area is estimated to increase to 11,200 by 2026.

The upgrade, which ran from January last year to this March, ensures the site will now be able to process the soaring volumes of wastewater.

This means that now Faringdon also meets updated Environment Agency standards, which are linked to the future population increase, on putting treated and cleaned wastewater back into the local watercourse, Faringdon Brook.

Emily Goren, Thames Water project engineer, said: “We are investing in our network across the Thames Valley, so we can meet the needs of our customers and protect the environment as the population grows.

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“This upgrade to the site will continue the seamless treatment of wastewater for the residents of Faringdon and the Coxwells into the future.”

The £3.6m work on the Faringdon sewerage is part of a £1bn programme of investment in 2019 and 2020.

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With Thames Water being the UK’s biggest water and wastewater services provider, its engineers have been designated as key workers during the coronavirus crisis to help ensure the taps and toilets of millions of customers continue to work.

However, non-essential work, such as meter readings, has been reduced.

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In April, Thames Water staff were concerned they might be put on furlough due to the pandemic, however, a spokesman made promises the company would not be losing any employees during the crisis.

More information about the sewage treatment process can be viewed at